Lake Sevan

Lake Sevan in east-central Armenia is one of the world’s largest high-altitude lakes. During the soviet era in the 20thcentury, hydroelectric industrialization and irrigation reduced the water level for about 20 metres to its current height of around 1900 m a.s.l. Even so, its original surface area of 1360 m2 dropped to 940 m2. The many ecological, environmental and economical problems caused by the reduction of the lake made the Armenian government decide to implement a restoration plan to increase the water level. And indeed, over the last years, the water has already been rising for about 2.5 m.

The countryside near Lake Sevan.

Beautiful Lake Sevan is now a national park. The highlands around it harbour several interesting reptiles. We concentrated on two species, both found just west of the lake. First, the steppe runner, Eremias arguta, of which the subspecies transcaucasica only occurs in a very limited area of steppe habitat with sand and stones. The area is full of rubbish and the population nowadays is considered endangered. Lacerta strigata was common in this area. Dice snake (Natrix tessellata) was found near the lake.

Looking for one of the rarest reptiles (sub)species of Armenia: Eremias arguta transcaucasica. 
The immense Lake Sevan is visible in the upper left corner.

On the rocks near a monastery we visited a population of Darevskia nairensis. It is not a rare, but rather locally distributed species, and for us this was the only opportunity to see it.

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Darevskia nairensis
Steppe runner, Eremias arguta subspecies transcaucasica
Caucasus green Lizard (Lacerta strigata) can occur in high densities here
Male levant green lizard (Lacerta media).
Dice snake (Natrix tessellata) is common on the banks of Lake Sevan. They get larger here than in Europe.